Thursday, May 16, 2013

All About the Internet

We all use the internet on a daily basis. It’s our means of communication, it’s how we obtain information, and it provides endless amounts of entertainment. However few if any of us know where the internet came from or how it works.

fiber optic cables
The internet, as I was told by my esteemed professor at MTI was initially invented by an unknown man working for the United States Air Force at the time and was merely a group of interconnected computers at first; just a small network like any other using static IP addresses which had to be input manually for new computers to join the network. The idea of file sharing spread so rapidly among this officer’s friends that it wasn’t long before they were asking to be added to the network, which he was happy to do. As people often do, those friends told their other friends about this network and they requested to be included. This pattern just kept repeating until the number of daily requests to be included actually drove the Air Force officer mad. Rather than let this massive network that had been created stall out or die, the government took it over and implemented the TCP/IP protocol using dynamic IP addresses that were generated automatically so no actual people had to manage it all and thus the internet was born. From there it grew and expanded until it became what it is today. Now perhaps this version of the internet’s creation is just an urban legend, but it’s much more interesting than the official story on Wikipedia.

How it works
The internet uses a networking protocol called DHCP which is a hierarchical structure to create what we know as the internet. This basically consists of millions of servers acting as information providers for your computer each with a specific area of expertise. For example when you hop on your computer to come visit the N3rd C0rn3r at that translates into an IP address associated with that URL. Your computer then sends a query to the server used by your internet service provider to see if it knows how to get to that IP address. If it does it provides the information to your computer and you quickly find yourself on this blog. If it doesn’t it will pass you up to the next highest level of server to see if it has the information you need. This can continue all the way up to the top level domain servers which contain a list of all the sites registered under .com, .net, .edu, etc. which then passes you down to the appropriate .whatever domain which will take you to the host site, which will take you to the blog. There are 13 or these top level domain servers and if these should all go down at once for any reason, the internet will stop working until at least one is repaired. This was the premise for the hacker attempt to bring down the internet. Though there are only 13 of these servers they’re quite well protected (as you can imagine) and the attempt failed to get all of them, but came very close.

What it’s good for
The internet is a great tool for communication allowing users to share data through a number of means. This allows it to be used for work from home situations, social networking, text, audio, and video communication and of course online gaming plus a myriad of other things I can’t even think of.

The internet is a very useful tool in our modern society that should be cherished and protected. It makes our lives easier and it’s what makes possible the N3rd C0rn3r.